Several weeks since the conclusion of the first bilateral meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and United States President Donald Trump, officials begun exploring the proposed bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Manila and Washington.
In a meeting held under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), officials on Thursday, November 29, discussed how to enhance the economic relationship between the two countries.
According to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ceferino Rodolfo, who led the Philippine delegation to the TIFA meeting, among the topics discussed during the meeting include the Philippines’ proposed bilateral FTA with the U.S.
“Building on the productive bilateral meeting of our leaders in Manila recently, we have also begun discussions on negotiating and concluding a possible bilateral free trade agreement with the United States,” Rodolfo said in his remarks after the meeting held in Washington, D.C.
Earlier in November, Filipino officials suggested a bilateral free trade agreement be concluded with the U.S. during Duterte’s meeting with Trump.
The U.S. is the third biggest trading partner of the Philippines in 2016 after China and Japan. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), U.S. accounts for the 11.6 percent or $16.427 billion total trade of the country last year.
Data from PSA also showed U.S. exports to the Philippines increased 9 percent to $8.3 billion in 2016.
Overall, Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez described the recent TIFA meeting as “productive and frank.”
“This TIFA meeting came barely a fortnight after the successful bilateral meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte and U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Manila, where the two leaders affirmed their commitment to further deepen the extensive United States-Philippines economic relationship,” Romualdez said.
“This early follow-up is a clear demonstration of the two countries’ shared resolve to enhance our long-standing partnership for mutual prosperity,” he added.
The next TIFA meeting in 2018 is expected to be held in Manila. (AJPress)